Coaching has never been about the money for Tom Les.
When he was at Marian Central from 2003-07, he donated his stipend checks to the school. In his six seasons at Niles Notre Dame, Les’ alma mater, he has coached for free.
Les coaches boys basketball for the enjoyment of being around the game he loves. He coaches to give back to his old high school. He coaches because it is a competitive outlet.
And Les, the chief financial officer at Althoff Industries in Crystal Lake, is very good at coaching. In his 11 seasons at Marian and Notre Dame, Les has never had a losing season. The Dons (9-1) are well on their way to their fourth 20-win season in five years (they were 19-10 in 2010).
“Part of the drive for me is I went to Notre Dame, and both my brothers [Gary and Jim] went there,” Les said. “And our relationship with Father John Smith meant a lot. Notre Dame helped all of us with athletics, academics and the success we’ve had in business. This is an opportunity for me to give back.”
Les graduated from Notre Dame in 1971 and played at Bradley through 1975. Gary was an athlete at Northwestern and Jim also played basketball at Bradley. When Father Smith came back as Notre Dame president in 2007, he called Tom Les about coaching, and Les jumped at the chance.
Les is 105-48 in his six seasons with the Dons, who are regarded as one of the best teams in the Chicago area. Les is 184-109 as a head coach.
Les’ Marian teams had a reputation for aggressive teams that thrived on pressure defense and a faster-paced game. Notre Dame, he says, is similar.
“We haven’t had a lot of size, and I like to play aggressively on offense and defense,” Les said. “We like to be in attack mode. We’ll change our style a little to fit personnel, but we have a lot of guards.”
That suits Les, a left-handed former point guard himself, just fine.
Construction hold-up: Richmond-Burton’s gymnasium expansion is well under way, but the Rockets’ athletic teams may not get into the new facility as early as planned. The concrete floor is poured and the wood flooring is piled in the gym ready to be installed, but humidity problems are holding the project up.
The north wall of Lou Ramirez Gymnasium was knocked out for the spacious addition. The construction was initially planned to be finished so the winter sports teams could compete in the new gym by the 2013 portion of the schedule.
R-B boys basketball coach Brandon Creason backloaded his schedule with road games in hopes they would be in the new gym. Most of the Rockets’ home games are in February.
“The problems we have now are nice problems to have,” Creason said.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.